Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blogosphere word salad

I think I mean I want I should I shouldn't I should've I say I maintain I feel I did I am I wrote I made I wonder I guess I think

My diary my soapbox my column my gallery my community my fifteen minutes my novel my confessional

Hear me validate me agree with me love me visit me censure me help me understand me convince me explain to me obey me admire me love me enjoy me laugh with me enlighten me pity me argue with me talk to me forgive me accept me love me hear me

Edit: This really seems to keep happening, which probably means that it behooves me to clarify before posting random experimental writing. This is not about me. Really not. Not in a "but secretly it is" sort of way. This attempt to dissect, analyze, boil down this crazy phenomenon that is "the blogosphere", the crazy elusive charm that so many people seem to see in it and all the different reasons that different people enjoy it and what is it exactly and....well now that it's explained it's really kind of dull.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thought Experiment

or The Random Thoughts Currently Bumping around my Head

I once heard somebody asked the classic question 'Can G-d make a rock that He cannot lift?', to which he gave the very interesting answer, "No. G-d can do everything except that He cannot not be G-d." Well, I like the answer insofar as it goes, but it leaves two interesting holes: A) Then there is something G-d can't do and B) then G-d does not really have free will. Which I suppose are not killer questions, because face it, we can't hope to understand even the concept of infinitude, so what do we know?

But here is an alternative train of thought: What if G-d thought of a scenario in which He could be not G-d- not infinite, that is? And what if that thought experiment is the world?

No, really. Listen. For G-d to be truly infinite, He must contain even the possibility of non-infinitude- He must be able to create a situation in which He cannot lift the rock. And from that quality of G-d's infinitude, He can create matter, space, time-crazy ideas really for a Being that is not bound in any of them.

So G-d creates/thinks of (I'm not sure there's a difference for Him) a universe in which He isn't infinite. If that universe is this one, it happens in two ways: 1) He makes a set of rules that He agrees to play by- but these rules probably aren't all that binding and choosing not to do something isn't the same as inability and 2) He creates flakes of Himself that are bound up by finity. By which I mean man.

Thus the universe is simply the forum in which G-d binds Himself up in non-omni-ness. Which would seem to deprive the whole thing of a sense of purpose. Unless- here's where B comes in. G-d in His infinite sense cannot have free will because He just is by virtue of being. And stuff. But G-d given limitations can then have the choice to choose whether or not to be divine. The universe- and specifically man- then becomes a place for man to choose to be divine, and all the rest of it is just thrown in to give man both true free will and a place to wander about being finite without being dead and stuff. A place in which G-d asks "What if I could choose not to be G-d?" and sees what happens.

Okay, it's a little random, and it may very well be stupid and/or heretical. But there you go.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Strike

Meanwhile, in Tobie's world, the strike continues. I must confess, I really don't get the strike. The person in charge of my school's student organization sent around an e-mail trying to explain it and it just seemed like an odd mixture of "secretly, we are making great strides" and "we aren't making any promises- who knows what will be tomorrow?"

Background: All the university students in this beautiful country are on strike. It's been three weeks now- I haven't had class since before Pesach. And Heavens only know when I will next. We're striking because the government wants to cut the subsidies that it gives to college education, thus raising our tuition, and also because the committee to discuss the whole thing is headed by people we don't like or have already said they don't like us or something like that.

Now, I have yet to talk to a single person who thinks that the strike is a good idea. I mean, for starters, we're the customers. Customers don't strike, and they certainly don't continue to pay for a product while refusing to actually use it. For seconders, you don't stop going to university to protest the government. Governments are fought with rallies and- crazy but it just might work- voting. I just somehow can't see ministers and officials crumbling to their knees sobbing, "please, please don't continue to refuse to become educated! I can't bear it any longer! Noooooooooooooo....." and so forth. I mean, the only real threat that we have in our arsenal is that we will all fail out of university and ten years down the road the country won't have an educated workforce and oh, boy, won't you all be sorry then.

Not that we're even turning to that doomsday weapon just yet. We won't go to classes, but tests, assignments, and projects are all still go. Because a strike is a strike, but we wouldn't actually want to jeopardize anything.

Which leaves aside the whole question of whether I even think the goal is worthy. Now, granted I don't pay my own tuition- it's one of those new immigrant perks- but maybe that makes me objective enough to see that maybe university students are not on the top ten list of people who most need to be subsidized. Most countries have something called student loans, under which you internalize all the costs of your education, thus enabling you to decide whether or not it's really worthwhile for you to get a college diploma, instead of simply earning one because it's cheap for you. The student leaders talk about how lack of subsidies will lead to everyone deciding not to go to school and so on and so forth, but it seems as if most countries seem to work things out decently well, and it's not like Israel has too few citizens looking only for high-educated, white-collar work.

Which is still not the main objection to the strike. The fact is, I'm bored out of my brains, not getting the education I came to this place for, not able to do anything actually fun since nobody knows when the strike will end, and probably about to get stuck with an extra week or two of classes or a frenzied month of make-up classes crammed into every hole in the schedule. Got to love socialism.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I's still Yom Ha'atzma'ut for you people and I should prolly leave you with something more inspiring than the below...ramble. But...I got can all go read this again, I still think it's pretty.

Dream come true

This was going to be turned into some vague sort of poem, but nothing poetic was really happening in my brain, despite the plethora of bus rides which usually serve as the best forum for creativity, plus my relatives (not to mention any names) have a habit of mocking my poetry, so I'm going to be terribly dull and actually say things out in prose. It may still become a poem some day, depending on how long this silly strike keeps going and thus how bored I shall end up becoming. Also, extra disclaimer, reading this back, I don't think it worked at all. But there is a point hidden there in the pomposity which I kind of like, although I don't think it came through at all. Anyhoo, enough with the typically long introduction, here goes:

Israel has problems. Really quite a lot of them. And not just the big exciting 'look, everybody wants to kill us' problems, not that those aren't fun too, but also all of those standard little typical problems, like corruption, and social rifts, and a weird little semi-socialism thing going, and a judicial system that makes me want to pull my hair out, and more beaurocracy than should be capable of fitting in one itty-bitty country, and all sorts of other wacky fun.

She's also got a shortage of good answers. To all those fun little problems and all of those big exciting ones, like how to not get destroyed or blown up or nuked or out of control.

And this all tends to depress people. Most particularly people who come all tra-la-la starry-eyed Zionist. I had a bit of a head-start in the cynical, unidealistic thing, but even so, it's a bit daunting. But here's the thing.

It's been all very well and fun to have a dream going for a couple thousand years, all about how cool it's going to be when you get back to Israel and/or have autonomy. And you get to build yourself awfully pretty visions of the utopia that it's all going to be. And in the dream, it can be. Because in the dream, everybody's sweet and friendly and wants to join hands and do folk dances between the fields of grain, unless the dreamer is more religious, in which case the dancing will be strictly seperate and with a nice mechitza. In dreams, there isn't real dirt or real stairs and nobody needs to figure out how exactly you're going to clean up after the party. In dreams, things just work out and everybody goes home a winner.

And the best part of the whole dream sequence when it concerns Israel is that even if those practical problems started forcing themselves on your attention- 'but how will we fit everyone?' 'what about a balance of power?' 'can you have a theocracy without getting all evil?'- you can foist them all off onto Mashiach. It'll be different then. The rules won't apply. People really will be warm fuzzy blankets of niceness. Monarchy works when you have a G-d-guaranteed benevolent monarch. We won't have to have an economy when bounty will drip off all the trees. And so on.

Well, and maybe it will be like that at some point. I've never really been clear on what's going to happen and when thing and tend towards the 'we'll find out when it happens, won't we?' But it's not like that now.

I know that there are some people who are holding out for the dream- who won't accept the reality because face it, it's a really long way from perfect. But I have to say, and maybe it's just me, I kind of prefer the model in which G-d says, "Okay, people, here's a chunk of land. Go figure things out,' to the one in which a savior comes galloping in on his white donkey to save the day. Kind of like the idea that the country is just bumbling along in its blessedly silly and confused little way, trying to figure things out and perhaps not always doing the best job in the world. Kind of like that there are problems, because that's what you get when dreams come true. We could have an ideal country, but only so long as we stay asleep, waiting for someone else to give it to us.

And illusions are nice and fun and so forth. But I think that I'm kind of fond of disillusionment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Saying of the Day

Until I have time to write a real post, here's a self-quote for the day:

Angst is like hormones. It's an unavoidable part of being human- certainly of being a teenager- but there's no point in wallowing in the stuff.