Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Google Giant 's Global Growth

Can one imagine a world without Google? It is astoundingly amazing to think that a mere 13 years ago they did not exist!

Yet this month Google celebrates their Bar Mitzvah. Our world has changed so much in these past few years that it is worthy of note.

Web searches were primitive. There were no Google Earth satellite images. People used maps from the AAA before MapQuest was launched. If you wanted an image for your document, you needed the primitive ClipArt. Now we have Google Images. How-to videos abound on YouTube. There are non-stop news feeds. There is Gmail. There is Google Translate. Google has it's own Toolbar. Google has it's own browser (Chrome). There is Google Scholar for academics. There is Picasa for pictures. There are Google Groups. Google Docs. Droid. Code snippets. Google Books. Of course there is Blogger...and much, much more.

What boggles the mind is that each of these applications would require resources of a giant corporation (in fact many of them were), yet Google incorporates all these aspects and continues to monopolize and grow.

Yet 99% of their revenue comes from advertisements!

It is worth noting that storing and locating information is what drives the internet. I've mentioned in the past how technology has enhanced our Emunah, making it easy to believe that all our actions are recorded in an everlasting book. Computers and the internet have made it easy. It is perhaps no strange coincidence that the first 2 letter of God and Google coincide.

Kesiva V'Chasima Tova!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marvelous Musical Memories Megasite

The electronic age has brought us the fabulous Hebrewbooks.org website, where close to 50,000 Seforim are now available for free download, or simply to look up a source. No longer does one need to visit a brick-and-mortar Shul, Yeshiva, Seforim store or library to find a necessary Sefer.

The good folks at Florida Atlantic University have now brought us the beginnings of a musical equivalent. One may search for old phonograph recordings which are no longer available.

There are over 1,000 albums to choose from. One may choose from either Cantorial, Chassidic, Children, Comedy, Holiday, Israeli, Sephardic or Yiddish. Several albums/performers that I was familiar with were: Neginah, David Werdyger, Safam, Rosenblatt, Jo Amar, Ben Zion Shenker, Ben Zion Miller, The Rabbis Sons and Kol Salonika.

One can listen to the entire recording in order, or one can skip around. One can view the back and front covers of the albums, to see who composed the songs and who sang them. It is a fantastic trip down memory lane to view the names in Jewish music of yesteryear.

We are moving closer and closer to the day when every possible bit of information will be at our fingertips. What was once lacking due to funds or resources is now only lacking due to time. So many records. So little time. As mentioned before on this blog, this should cause us to reflect, especially in these days of Tishrei, on how we can better make use of our time.

Hat Tip: RYGB

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jaded Jokes Jar Judgement

In my youth I heard the following joke:

Q: What are the names of the three cowboys featured in Adon Olam?
A: Billy Raishis, Billy Sachlis and ................................... Kid Ruchie.

Some years later one of the Jewish parody recordings saw fit to make fun of the Silent Prayer (Hinneni Heani) offered by the Chazan on the High Holidays before Musaf.

It took a while for me to shake these funny thoughts of cowboys, when Davening every morning. It took some time for me to appreciate the somberness of the Chazan's Tefilah prior to Musaf, without conjuring up images of cows lowing in the fields.

My feeling is that there are certain parts of Judaism, particularly the liturgy that should remain off-limits to parody.

What prompted me to write this is the now viral post of Aish's Rosh HaShana break-dancers. While it may succeed in showing that Jews can be hip and religious, I feel that it is sacreligious to portray Judgement Day in such light.

Have a meaningful New Year!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bob Beats Barack's Buddy

The election for Anthony Weiner's seat in the NY 9th congressional district has been decided in favor of Bob Turner.

I believe that the electorate of this district made a huge Kiddush Hashem by defying the Democrat machine and voted in conservative Republican Bob Turner.

Several months ago it had been unthinkable that a Republican would be able to win in this heavily Democratic district, considering that the Dems hold a 3 to 1 margin over Republicans in registered voters. This is the district that voted in Chuck Schumer and his protege, Anthony Weiner. Not since the 1920's has a Republican taken this seat in Congress.

Yet in the interim, David Weprin, a self-declared Orthodox Jew, voted in favor of same-gender marriage, and proudly marched in the parade which promoted this agenda.

While many Jews typically vote Democratic because of their concern for social ills, and also because they are often the recipient of social programs, I was proud to see that many voted their conscience even though it may conflict with their pocketbooks.

In an election that was seen by many nationally as a referendum on Barack Obama's policies, the way he is handling the economy and foreign policy regarding Israel, I was doubly proud to see this clear message sent to Washington that we will not be silent regarding the above mentioned issues.

Kudos to the many Rabbonim, Askonim, Bloggers and Websites who supported the Bob Turner candidacy.

Update: I would also like to mention that we have a Mesorah that Morality protects from destruction. Sodom was done in for breaches in morality. Many have noted that Vermont, which bore the brunt of the recent hurricane Irene was the first state to legislate in favor of same-gender marriage. Let us hope that the rejection of candidates who support SSM will serve as a protection for our great state of NY.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Twin Towers Three Thousand






Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane "Hype" Hits Hard

In the not so recent past, meteorologists left much to be desired. Weather reports were usually 50/50, and one wondered why even pay these scientists when the layman could also produce such a round-robin score. It was not far from reality to find someone shoveling several inches of "the partly cloudy".

Yet this age of computer directed weather models has been strikingly accurate in recent years. They will tell you a blizzard is coming, they will tell you which hour it will start falling, and they will even tell you the final inch count, depending on which part of the city you live in.

It was noteworthy that the recent hurricane Irene was predicted with great accuracy. The weathermen were able to tell you when the rain would start to fall, the path of the storm, and the rate at which the hurricane would move on.

The irksome part was the incessant warnings of the newscasters. No other news story even had a chance. Harping and Hyping the Hurricane was deemed a necessity of the media.

For most of us, the hurricane caused little damage and we might have wondered why all the hype was necessary. Yet in reality, over 40 people lost their lives, and that is even though thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Many lost power, many roads were washed away in Vermont and upstate New York. Travel back from camps was difficult to impossible for some.

Yet all in all, most of us emerged unscathed. Even so, we should heed the recent earthquake in the Northeast and the recent Hurricane as a wakeup call to do Teshuva. Elul time is always a time to reflect on world events as a reminder to us that Hashem runs the world. It is probably no accident that the 2 lives lost in NY unfortunately were members of the tribe.

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