Solely In Black and White: September 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a kesivah vachasimah tovah and a sweet new year.  Yimalei Hakadosh Baruch Hu es kol mishalos libchem letovah! Try to enjoy the three day Yom Tov... ;-) Oh, and on that note, a reminder, don't forget to make an eruv tavshilin.  

Friday, September 23, 2011


For all you coffee addicts out there... Have a wonderful coffee filled day! :-D

Monday, September 19, 2011

IKEA's New Innovation

The idea seems infantile yet brilliant. Instead of dragging husbands around shopping, create a place for men to "play" while their wives shop. I was going to ask an audacious question: if the men aren't shopping with their wives anyway, why should they come at all? Then I realized it's IKEA, there are a lots of boxes and stuff to help carry and fit (tetris style) into the car. I think that seems fair enough, although I wonder if they are serious about that 30 minute maximum rule. Anyway, I think we should persuade every retailer and mall to follow a similar plan of action! :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apple removes "Jew or Not a Jew?" from French App Store

In case you didn’t hear about this news item, allow me to inform you of a very peculiar recent news story. Recently, Apple was forced, under threat of legal action, to remove an App called “Jew or Not Jew” from its French App store on the grounds that the app violated France’s law barring the aggregation or compilation of personal details without proper consent. 

The action followed complaints from a French anti-racism group, which threatened to sue the iPhone maker… 

Under French penal code, stocking personal details including race, sexuality, political leanings or religious affiliation is punishable by five-year prison sentences and fines of up to $411,870. 

While I find the story be a bit sad, creepy, and comical, I really don’t see the legal issue. The app is not specifically germane to France, nor is the App or data in question of French origin. Additionally, one would have to prove the information to be factual under said statute. I suspect the app is basically just a reincarnation of the "Jew or Not Jew" website, which would question the compilation aspect of the allegation. While in theory a violation of the French statute stated above might be viewed as a very serious issue, it would seem that the intent of this website, and arguably this app, is not one of hate, but rather one of satire. Thus, I would surmise that this element is not  necessarily satisfied. However, I don’t really know what I am talking about. :-P  Also, one must further ask: does this mean the French do not know how to take a joke? Perhaps; but I will concede that it is nice that they are standing up for Jews, so no complaints here! On that note, I wonder if FrumSatire would make an app “Frummy or Not a Frummy? That might be entertaining.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Woof! Target puts Black Friday to Shame

In case you haven't heard about it, starting today one can find Missoni at Target. At first I thought people were joking, but after visiting a local Target store the rumors appear to be true. Nationwide people are ransacking Target stores in the hope of finding fashionably good deals. As a male this isn't all that exciting as most of the Missoni stuff is comprised of female attire. However, there are some interesting houseware and art items that are being offered as well, if you're lucky enough to find them. If you haven't made to Target yet or if you went and were unlucky or you just didn't find what you were looking for, fear not, for management claims they'll be receiving another shipment hopefully tonight. Furthermore, I don't know if the insanity is entirely logical (nationwide sellouts and a downed Target website?) as Target will be stocking Missoni until October 22 or until they run out of stock... Besides, doesn't the fact that Target is selling the same stock nationwide reduce the cool and exclusivity factors of Missoni? Regardless, I believe this event seriously puts Black Friday to shame! 

I Don't Know, That is a Good Question!

“Who first thought to milk a cow?”

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Question of Morals and Ethics...

There are many interpretation and arguments as to what is ethics and what is the origin of ethical reasoning.  One common line of reasoning as taught in many professional and theological capacities is “the golden rule” or the ethic of reciprocity. Basically, one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. Another line of reasoning is known as the greater good; wherein the solution that benefits the most people is the most ethically sound. Those theories sound reasonable and rather agreeable. However, while those explanation should for the most part answer a significant portion of ethical dilemmas, there are many that do not fall within their domain or worse, some of these ethical conundrums question the validity of these premises. So here is one that I was always troubled by, a quintessential classic ethical dilemma.

Hypothetically, let us say one was standing in the middle of train-yard right next to a railway manual switch. Currently there is a runaway train fast approaching the juncture. (Such as in Runaway) In its current path there are three people on that segment of the track who will definitely be killed by this speeding train. However, if you flip the switch and send the train down the other track, those three people will live, but one person on that segment of the track will be killed because of your actions. The question is, do you flip the switch? Under the reasoning of the greater good, one would be obligated to flip the switch. However, under The Golden Rule things become a little murkier. Who's perspective are we supposed to protect? Personally, I always contended that I wouldn’t be able to flip the switch because I couldn’t in good conscience kill another human being in any capacity.

Coal Miners
Fair enough, but now I have a new dilemma that has piqued my interest. It's easier when its abstract, so lets try something a little more practical. Let us say a group of coal miners gets trapped underground, which isn't all that uncommon. The rescue team informers the miners via cellphone or some form of radio communication establish that they will not be able to rescue them for 3 weeks due to the depth of the mine and the complexity involved in the rescue operation.  It has been determined that they, the group stuck underground, does not have enough food to survive for this duration. Upon consideration and waiting till the last possible moment, the miners reach a consensus that they will make a lottery to determine who should die in order to become food for the others. Person B is chosen, killed, and eaten. 

Upon their rescue, the miners are hospitalized where they are treated for shock, malnourishment, dehydration, Rickets, and decompression sickness. After their recuperation, they are summoned to court and tried for the murder of Person B.  Do you believe they are culpable for murder? Did the surviving miners act ethically?  Most importantly, what would you have done? (feel free to answer this question in the poll on the upper right-hand portion of the sidebar) 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just Five More Minutes…

Astronomical Clock
Time for something complex ? Astronomical Clock Via Flickr
Well it is about time, sorta. :-P Is it just me, or do women have their own definition of time? I suppose that when a male says I’ll be ready in about five minutes, generally that timeline holds true to be about five minutes. However, when a female say the same thing, they are essentially reserving the right to be ready in anywhere from five to twenty minutes. Perhaps we can reconcile this difference by explaining that females run on the metric system while males run on the imperial system. In other words, arguably, there is not right or wrong, yet a proper conversion needs to be done in order to account for the difference. While one system may actually be superior to the other, the fact remains that both systems are currently in place and one needs not change the system but understand it. Besides, it’s really more about what system you are more comfortable with. Coincidentally, I wonder how people cook and bake in metric (specifically Celsius, might as well set the oven based on degrees Kelvin while you’re at it) but that is an aside. :-/

Initially, I was taught about this “miscommunication” by my father who tried to always tell my mother to be ready at a specific time, which unbeknownst to her was 15 minutes before he really wanted to leave. I believe this to be a brilliant idea that has seen much success over the years. Likewise, other philosophers and theologians have their differing and consenting opinions on how to rectify this situation, regardless, it is keen to understand that the conditional element exist. Furthermore, in the study of male and female interaction, it would be fortuitous to note that this the primary explanation why males are instructed to not show up to a date exactly on time, mainly to grant the females a few extra minutes to ready themselves.  

Interestingly, I actually did not come up with this as a post topic on my own. Most of the time I’m actually not waiting for my wife and on occasion, such as by last week’s kiddish, she was waiting for me! :-o I guess like everything else in marriage, you kind of figure out what works for you.  However, the inspiration for this post was a conversation that my wife had with her friend that implicated that all women understand this implicit time system and basically most women abide by it; yet, men are dumbfounded by it. Correct me if I am wrong, I believe such a proposition to be fascinating. In that case, perhaps I need a new wristwatch… ;-)  

Monday, September 5, 2011


Family Decals via XKCD
While perhaps not necessarily a choice in our religion per se, this comic does contain a nugget of truth, the more kids you have, the less disposable income you have... 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Google's Answer to the Shidduch Crisis

Sometimes the "perfect" male isn't so perfect... 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Disconnect from What?

While there has been a strong push for “disconnection” recently, that did make me wonder, why do we disconnect from others? Does anyone else question why we are disconnected to begin with? It can be argued that technology is by its nature constantly distracting. But perhaps further introspect on the subject is needed. Let’s take a recent Pew Study via USA Today as an example:

The Pew Internet and American Life Project says that 13 percent of adult mobile phone owners in the U.S. have used the old "I'm on the phone" tactic. Thirty percent among those aged 18 to 29 did that at least once in the previous 30 days.

I wonder what those numbers would look like if the study included texting and other web/data related activities. Personally, I am guilt of using my phone to ignore people on occasion. I’m not saying using a phone to ignore someone is proper, moral, or even right, but I think there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes people just don’t get social conventions or hints. In those cases, extraordinary measures are needed to deal with the situation. Granted, I am biased; my phone and I are rather close, if you catch my drift… ;-) so maybe I am not the right person to ask about this subject, but there is no way that I am the only one using this technique to avoid awkward social situations...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quick Question of the Week: Spoiled Food?


While we were (b”h) very lucky in having power throughout the hurricane this past week, some people were not as lucky. Ironically, when viewing our energy provider’s website our power flickered for long enough to shutoff the computer, which was quite bizarre. Anyway, while most of our perishables (which incidentally consisted of not all that much) were safe in our working fridge and freezer, I forgot that I had placed a stash of chicken soup, challah, and kugels in someone else’s house that didn’t have power. In retrospect, I should have moved all the items to our fridge and freezer at that point. Whoops. To add a complication to the matter, we do not know how long the freezer was without power or how many times it had been opened. All we know is that the power was off for at least 48 hours but not more than 72 hours, and the contents were then frozen immediately after the power was restored. So, being that we are not food safety experts, perhaps someone can help us out. Is this stuff still safe to eat?