Lessons from a Fire

Seeker Thoughts

Very early in the morning of April 1st, Friday, a fire spread through the Faculty Center of my University, the University of the Philippines. It started on the third floor, and spread quickly throughout the rest of the building. The “FC” (as it was fondly called) housed the offices of over 250 professors from the College of Social Science and Philosophy, as well as the College of Arts and Letters. The building was close to fifty years old and in truth, the structure of the building itself was of little importance – what was much more devastating was the materials lost within the building: decades’ worth of records were burned, along with important written documents in the fields of history, sociology, and anthropology to name a few. And even more than that, each professor’s office was full of their personal belongings: from treasured books, to important documents, to even memorabilia…

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על אוזן המן

נקודת ראות

בינואר 1912 קבע ועד הלשון שהשם שיינתן למילה הגרמנית Mohntaschen (ביידיש: מאָן טאַשן) הוא אוזני המן. נשאלת השאלה מדוע ועד הלשון לא נתן את התרגום העברי למילה זו, שהיא כיסי פרג. אכן, שמעון ברנפלד, היסטוריון, פובליציסט וחוקר המקרא מתרעם על חידוש זה. כך הוא כותב בעיתון הצפירה בגיליון 56 מא’ בניסן תרע”ב: “ההמון בארצות הצפון והמזרח משתמש במלה המונית ‘המן-טאשען’. מה הטעם למלה זו? זהו עסק למחקר הפסיכולוגיה העממית, שאין כאן מקומו. בכל אופן לא נכנסה מלה זו (ועמה גם המושג ההמוני) לא אל שפתנו, שהיא שפה אצילית כל כך, ולא אל שפת השפות שידברו בהם יהודים. באו ‘מניחי הלשון’ בא”י וזכו אותנו במלה עברית חדשה: ‘אזני המן’. המלה ההמונית הזאת היא מנקרת מהעת ההיא במחי וצורמת את אזני. כאשר ראיתי את החדוש הזה, אמרתי לעצמי: אין אלו מרחיבי שפתנו, אלא אנשי לצון”.

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Hand of God paper retracted: PLOS ONE “could not stand by the pre-publication assessment”

For Better Science

A paper with reference to “The Creator” in PLOS One, titled “Biomechanical characteristics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living“, has been retracted after numerous readers’ complaints. A sentence in the abstract went:

“The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way”.

It was followed by two further mentions of The Creator. In the comment section, the author Ming-Jin Liu claimed not to have meant any God, but evolution:

“We are sorry for drawing the debates about creationism. Our study has no relationship with creationism. English is not our native language. Our understanding of the word Creator was not actually as a native English speaker expected. Now we realized that we had misunderstood the word Creator. What we would like to…

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Shabbos

Seeker Thoughts

Almost three years ago, in the Hebrew year 5774 (or 2013), I had more or less just started learning about Judaism and was still touching on the basics of each topic. Rosh Hashana had just ended and I was speaking with a friend about it, when she suddenly said, “I’m sad because Yom Kippur is on a Shabbos this year.”

“What’s the difference?” I asked. “Yom Kippur is one of those holidays that’s like Shabbos anyway, right? So you still can’t do all the things you can’t do on Shabbos anyway.”

“Yeah,” she conceded. “But it’s just different. It’s missing a Shabbos and having to wait a whole other week for it.”

In truth, I still didn’t understand the problem. Shabbos was every week. What was the big deal about missing one? But I decided to stop pushing the issue, it was probably something that was just beyond me to…

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